Bakersfield deputies beating: Video prompts FBI investigation
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KABC) -- Surveillance video from the night a Bakersfield man died, allegedly at the hands of six Kern County deputies, has triggered a federal investigation.
The video is grainy and far from conclusive, but it will soon be part of an FBI probe. It shows 33-year-old David Silva of Bakersfield being beaten by deputies. When those deputies first arrived, Silva was reportedly drunk and passed out on a street corner. What happened next was all caught on camera and witnessed by several people.
"You have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead, laying right here right now," said a 911 caller.
Another eyewitness who wanted her identity concealed said she couldn't believe it when deputies started to beat Silva.
"He's drunk. That's all he is. He's eventually going to sober up a little bit...and these [expletive] killed him," she said.
The beating took place just across the street from Kern Medical Center. That's where Silva was pronounced dead on May 8. Deputies said he fought them after they approached him about complaints that someone in the area was intoxicated. Coroner's officials have not determined the cause of Silva's death, pending toxicology and other tests.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood on Tuesday said the fatal beating is under investigation and that he's turning to the FBI to conduct its own probe into the deputies' response.
The beating was also recorded on several cellphones, but those phones were confiscated by investigators. They will also become part of the FBI's investigation.
The sheriff's department has come under scrutiny for the seizure of the mobile phones by detectives hours after the beating, but Youngblood defended the move, saying they were taken with a warrant as part of the investigation.
The sheriff initially asked the Bakersfield Police Department to analyze the video to avoid a conflict of interest, and said the initial police investigation showed that one phone contained video of the beating but the other did not.
David Cohn, an attorney for Silva's children and parents, said before Youngblood's FBI announcement that his clients were concerned that the videos, which he has not seen, might be erased or destroyed, either accidentally or on purpose.
Silva's family is demanding justice be served.
"He probably was here, right here, asleep for whatever reason, but that doesn't give them permission, anyone permission, to kill him," said Silva's brother, Chris Silva.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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